The Way of Contentment

The Way of Contentment

This has been an extended and beautiful spring season. As I sit here this morning I am aware that the morning temperature was cool at 53 degrees, the air was refreshing, sweet, a gentle breeze stirred the tree leaves which were animated and dancing, the sky was a true sky blue, bright and clear. At times like this my heart swells and I feel so grateful to be living this life. I hope you are also filled with this deep contentment.

Experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction is something that many of us rarely experience and when we do it often is such a surprise because we are reaching ahead, looking for the next best thing to achieve or make happen. We have missed the moment rather than meeting the moment and this phenomenon of distractibility and striving to have a better moment leaves us with a sense of boredom, ennui, and disappointment. This longing for life to be more than it is, is a pernicious snake wrapped around our bodies suffocating us, stifling our breathing, emptying our life force and spirit.

In mindfulness practice we are encouraged to embrace the present and pay attention on purpose to this one and only life. We can perceive as an artist sees the intricate patterns of a butterfly’s wing, touching the smoothness of a river rock while experiencing its texture, hearing the subtle whirling of the hummingbird hovering over an orange hue flowering shrub or the winds of late, flapping the tree branches.

It is beneficial to be aware of both why and how we strive for more, what takes us away, and what brings us back to a sense of fulfillment. Knowing the causes and conditions are essential to this practice. This recognizing brings us to a place of inner insight and allows us the opportunity to work with the situation, however it is. We can choose. I would like to share this prose piece with you from David Whyte that speaks to this so simply: “Enough”

These few words are enough, if not these words, this breath…
If not this breath, this sitting
this opening to the life we have refused
again and again until now. Until now.

In this moment of epiphany
this opening to the life we have refused
again and again
until NOW.

One of the gifts of our practice is a teaching by the Buddha; a well-trodden path to walk that can lead us to this contentment. It is known as The Eightfold Path to Happiness, a road map providing all the steps to peace and freedom.

Real Kindness

Real Kindness

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“I may not know my original face but I know how to smile.
I may not know the recipe for the diameter
Of a circle but I know how to cut a slice
for a friend. I may not be Mary or Buddha
But I can be kind. I may not be a diamond
Cutter but I still long for rays of light
that reach the heart.
I may not be standing on the hill of skulls
But I know love when I see it.”—Not Knowing, by Stephen Levine

What is real kindness? In our day and age, these words really translate as paying attention to the moment in a gentle, friendly, loving way. When we practice meditation and we take the time to bring a kind attention to the body, feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral), the emotions, and our thoughts — that is an act of kindness. Continue reading

Transitioning and Welcoming 2018

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As this year draws to its end,
we give thanks for the gifts it brought
and how they become inlaid within
where neither time nor tide can touch them.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

At the End of the Year —John O’Donohue

Transitioning and Welcoming 2018

As we shift from the turbulence of 2017 into the promise of the new year, it can be important and significant to look back and remember all the moments of peace, ease, interconnection, strength, tenacity, and happiness we experienced. Continue reading

Gratitude Engenders Generosity

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“When we are connected wholeheartedly with others and the world, generosity is not a matter of deciding to give; giving simply flows out of us.” —Gil Fronsdal

Gratitude Engenders Generosity

When we experience gratitude, we feel connected to ourselves, life around us, and others. There is a deep stirring in the heart and mind of thankfulness. Rather than only seeing what is missing, we see clearly what we do have and its preciousness. Continue reading

Bringing Peace to Ourselves and Our World

Bringing Peace to Ourselves and Our World

When I listen to or read from other Dharma teachers, there is a piece of wisdom that they frequently offer as a foundation in bringing peace to life. They inform us that, without connecting with others through our intention, behavior, and action, we remain separated, distanced, alienated, and removed. This unhappy state unfolds as the “lonely heart.” A “lonely heart” often misunderstands others’ deeds and intentions, mistaking them as harmful, aversive, angry, and biased towards us.
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Long Walk to Freedom

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No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

— Nelson Mandela

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The Five Remembrances

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I am of the nature to age.
I have not gone beyond aging.

I am of the nature to sicken.
I have not gone beyond sickness.

I am of the nature to die.
I have not gone beyond dying.

All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, will become separated from me.

I am the owner of my karma,
Heir to my karma,
Born of my karma,
Related to my karma,
Abide supported by my karma.
Whatever karma I shall do, for good or for ill, of that I will be the heir.

— The Buddha

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The Eight Worldly Winds (The Eight Vicissitudes)

The Eight Worldly Winds (The Eight Vicissitudes)

From the Mungalla Sutta

This time of year in Tucson is daily filled with breezy or windy weather, which blows dust in the air, knocks over trash cans and carries them away, burns and stings eyes, and much more. It often makes a mess and causes us irritation; and, interestingly, some of us enjoy its impact, variability, spacious blowing, and unexpected outcomes.

We are all different and so how we relate to these life winds varies, as do the winds themselves.
The definition of vicissitude is “the quality or state of being changeable, mutability; natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs” or “a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance; a fluctuation of state or condition the vicissitudes of daily life; a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one’s control; alternating change, succession.” These vicissitudes seem to be endless and out of our control; yet how we choose to respond to life’s conditions and events may be part of our path to cultivating happiness or being dragged down into a whirlwind of suffering. Continue reading

How to Transform Anger

How to Transform Anger

When most of think about anger we have images of people yelling at each other, getting red in the face, tightening of the jaw and fists, nasty or insulting speech, actions that may involve some type of physical or psychological abuse, fear of being harmed, blaming, irritation, frustration, feeling annoyed just to name a few manifestations of this mind state.

Much of this type of anger when taken out on another person is actually a form of rage; a deep seated emotion that was likely triggered by some trauma or childhood abuse. It can be deeply destructive to oneself and to another. Often it is an ‘out of control’ reaction to suppressed wounds that have never been faced and healed. When the causes and conditions are ripe for these ‘angry behaviors” to manifest they emerge so quickly that they bypass our ability to even be aware of what is happening. They take over and we react. Continue reading